Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 9: 22/23


No more than, Just, Merely


Verb +(だけにすぎない
[い]Adjective +(だけにすぎない
[な]Adjective +(だけにすぎない
Noun +(だけにすぎない


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About にすぎない

にすぎない is a common structure in Japanese used for indicating that something is 'no more than (A)', or 'merely (A)'. This expression is constructed from に, and the negated form of the る-Verb ()ぎる, meaning 'to exceed', or 'to be more than'. Due to this, the literal translation of 'to not be more than (A)' reflects the English interpretations closely.
にすぎない is slightly formal, but is heard fairly often in day-to-day speech as well. This grammar pattern may be used after verbs in any of their standard forms, い-Adjectives, な-Adjectives, or nouns.
  • (わたし)はお(かね)()しかったから、あなたを(たす)けたにすぎない
    I helped you just because I wanted money.
  • どんだけ勉強(べんきょう)していても、ちゃんと集中(しゅうちゅう)して勉強(べんきょう)をしないと時間(じかん)無駄(むだ)にしているにすぎない
    No matter how much you study, if you don't focus on your studies properly, you are just wasting your time.
  • あの建物(たてもの)(ふる)いだけにすぎない
    That building is nothing more than old.
  • 田中(たなか)さんはハンサムなだけにすぎない
    Tanaka-san is nothing more than handsome.
  • 藤田(ふじた)さん、(きみ)子供(こども)にすぎない
    Fujita-san, you are nothing more than a child.
にすぎない is often seen paired with structures that will emphasize the phrase even further, such as ただ 'merely' or だけ 'just'. In the case of だけ, it will come between the target word and にすぎない. Also, standard conjugation rules will need to be remembered, such as adding な after a な-Adjective before だけ.
  • この納豆(なっとう)はただくさいだけにすぎない
    This natto just smells.
  • 田舎(いなか)はただ不便(ふべん)なだけにすぎない
    The countryside is nothing more than inconvenient.
Fun-fact - にすぎない may occasionally appear in set phrases, such as 氷山(ひょうざん)一角(いっかく)にすぎない, which means 'to merely be the tip of the iceberg'.
  • これは氷山(ひょうざん)一角(いっかく)にすぎないとおもう...
    I think that this is just the tip of the iceberg…




    You are nothing more than a student.


    If you don't act, then that is nothing more than talk.


    It is just bad luck. (nothing more than)


    It is said that laying down with one's head to the north is bad for you. That is no more than superstition.


    That line is no more than an estimate. It is okay to go a little over it.

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にすぎない – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (1 in total)

  • dokidokiwakuwaku


    Would だけ or ばかり not be acceptable synonyms for this grammar point? If not, can someone explain the difference in usage? Thank you!

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